Don't Let Retraction Distract From The Simple Fact: GOP Copyright Policy Brief Was Brilliant

from the don't-forget-it dept

While there’s been plenty of attention paid over the weekend to the fact that the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the conservative caucus of House Republicans, pulled its report on copyright reform after some entertainment industry lobbyists hit the phones/emails late Friday/early Saturday (and, no, it wasn’t directly to RSC, for the most part, but to “friendly” members asking them to express their “displeasure” with the report to the RSC leadership). But we shouldn’t let that distract from the simple fact that the report was brilliant — perhaps the most insightful and thoughtful piece of scholarship on copyright to come out of a government body in decades. You can still read the whole thing as uploaded to Archive.org.

Some people have set up a petition at Change.org asking the RSC to republish and stand behind the policy brief. Others are saying you should contact your own Representatives directly and ask them to support the report. For example, Dave Weinberger wrote a wonderful letter to his own Representative, telling him that he should take a look at the report, and that he should use it as a starting point “for a conversation this country very much needs.”

It seems unlikely that the RSC will bring it back, despite the quality of the report. But one hopes that the massive outpouring of support (seriously, just check Twitter) will lead politicians from both parties to recognize that sensible and smart copyright reform is a topic that gets people excited — and one thing they’re sick of is decades of both parties simply falling all over themselves to distort copyright to favor a few dominant Hollywood players.

Because the GOP has chickened out, we’re going to try to do a series of posts analyzing the various aspects of the report, starting with the three myths about copyright it debunks, followed by four policy recommendations, to see if we can further the discussion. Look for those posts in the coming days and weeks.

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Comments on “Don't Let Retraction Distract From The Simple Fact: GOP Copyright Policy Brief Was Brilliant”

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80 Comments
Rekrul says:

But one hopes that the massive outpouring of support (seriously, just check Twitter) will lead politicians from both parties to recognize that sensible and smart copyright reform is a topic that gets people excited — and one thing they’re sick of is decades of both parties simply falling all over themselves to distort copyright to favor a few dominant Hollywood players.

Unless those people are willing to throw millions of dollars at the politicians, I doubt they’ll care. 🙁

anon says:

Re: Re: Re:

What needs to happen is the big boys get involved, the google and netflix and all the other new start-ups that are being ripped of by the length of copyright, they need to all put in a few hundred million and start lobbying the government to make some of the better changes in this report.
If we can get some money behind this it will force the government to accept the right bribes this time, and then Hollywood can complain that they did not have enough money to blackmail the government into giving them there way. Just imagine giving each senator 1 million each in a check on the house floor to vote for this change,I would love to see Hollywood’s faces when they realised they had lost by a group using there tactics against them, then maybe we could start getting money out of politics when Hollywood starts complaining how it was money that changed the laws for the citizens interest and not the monopolists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If they want to keep riding the lobby gravy train they still need votes to get/stay in power. They have to keep a balance. Getting plenty of campaign funds and ending up with abismal votes doesn’t look good for a politician.
If they screw the funders too hard they’re out of campaign even though they could have gotten votes, if they screw voters too hard with empty promises, all the campaign money in the world won’t get them back in the seat of power.

SolkeshNaranek says:

Recording FUD & the GOP report

Based on the speed with which the recording industry lobbyists acted to browbeat the GOP into retracting the report, it would seem certain that the gatekeepers know the truth of the report.

If the gatekeepers believed their own FUD statistics about the necessity of draconian copyright laws, I doubt they would have mounted such a spirited call for the retraction.

In the end, it seems to be “all about the benjamins” (

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Recording FUD & the GOP report

After 15 million American voters took out SOPA and PIPA earlier this year then the MPAA and RIAA have been doing their best to ignore the truth in the power the public now hold.

Since then Chris Dodd must have been having screaming nightmares about this very day. Suddenly their is a view on copyright law in Congress not put there by the entertainment industry. Certainly they will bring in all their forces to quickly erase this hated document with a “move along, nothing to see here”

I am very enthusiastic about this call for copyright reform when this is no greedy document taking control or seizing resources. This is simply addressing real problems that exist and adding in something called “fairness”. We should certainly get behind this document when it could be many years before something else pops up like this if we don’t. This is the type of copyright reform we want to see and since this documents is pure genius then it would prove very hard indeed for any sane person to mount arguments against this.

I do strongly believe that we do hold power to enable such copyright law reform. Only a few years ago I would not have expected to see such reform in my lifetime but out of our annoyance and anger look what amazing things we have already achieved. Even if this document fails there has already been big gain here but if you truly believe that a major reform of copyright law is due then just maybe a big reform of copyright law is due.

Anonymous Coward says:

I, for one, have been vigorously sharing the brief with everyone I know with any sort of interest in intellectual protectionism law.
Despite the foot-in-mouth retraction, I’m glad it was released, even momentarily. You can’t un-say something like this, and hopefully it keeps generating these kinds of conversations we so sorely need to have.

Austin Beam (profile) says:

Petition Quality

I’m all for a petition on this, as I’ve reviewed the brief and am extremely impressed with the content. It is rare to see our representatives take a stand for what is right, and we need to support them when they do so.

I’m disappointed, however, in the quality of the petition linked here. Frankly, it is very poorly worded. I would be hard-pressed to take it seriously as a result of the incompetence portrayed by its content.

Can we possibly create a new one with more clear and effective wording? The reason I’m posting this here is because the TechDirt link will likely have tremendous impact, and I don’t want that impact to go to waste.

I don’t care who owns the petition, but decent content would most definitely enhance its impact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Because the GOP wants Hollywood votes?

Since the GOP lost the youth vote, and Hollywood knows youth, so therefor they should start kowtowing to Hollywood.

Hahaha, don’t be silly. That would be too much thought.

Hollywood has $$$$.

Also, Republicans would never kowtow since it’s no ‘Merican enuff. They think it’s ornemental or sumthin’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Like I said before, the policy position papers written by the parties in study groups and conventions, etc, may get their base riled up, but it has ZERO binding effect in how they govern. Until republicans actually act on what they wrote in that paper, it means nothing.

By comparison for how these papers don’t matter, FDR when originally campaigning for his 1st term for president wasn’t promising ANY of the big government things associated with him. Quite the opposite, he was promising stuff like balancing the budget and cutting the national debt. But then FDR took office, and became known as one of the biggest pro-big government presidents ever.

And no, the situation didn’t really change from when he campaigned and by the time he got into the office, the great depression started several years before he took office. FDR simply said and promised one thing in his speeches and policy papers, and then did another thing.

out_of_the_blue says:

"Republicans" picking winners and losers, is all.

They used to be against using gov’t to do that, but like nearly all that the “party” used to stand for, it’s been hi-jacked by neo-cons into outright fascism.

Take a moment for Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick and click:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
Actual unsolicited testimonial: “Until I read Techdirt.com, I didn’t know what shameless self-promotion was!”

Ben (profile) says:

Really PublicKnowledge?

I was disappointed by the link to PublicKnowledge and the “contact your representative” — no tool for finding your Rep (or their phone number); their expectation is for you to call your rep’s office rather than sending an email or pointing you to your Rep’s web page (if any). In effect all it looked like was a mechanism for them to get your contact information. Very disappointing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sadly, the report never had a chance to go anywhere even if it hadn’t been retracted. Many of the suggestions contravene our international obligations in the WTO (TRIPS) and WIPO, as well as our various FTAs. Even if politicians were intellectually curious about copyright reform, they almost surely lack the political willpower to upend those agreements.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As they (the US) are often the ones pushing the most draconian terms into these agreements, they can always renegotiate.

These agreements are not set in stone, they are not immutable.

It becomes clear from reading the report that it is perfectly clear if you stop believing the hype they are doing much more harm than good. That the law has been pushed, twisted, and abused to benefit only corporations. This agreement which was supposed to benefit creators and society is now focused solely on corporations who acquire these rights and wield them as weapons against innovation, inspiration, new ideas, or anything they fear.

I do not think they went far enough in the analysis, leaving out how the rightholders have crafted a system that prevents the pursuit of a global market. This is detrimental to the business model now, but it allowed them to kill any idea that might challenge their domination of the market. Instead of patching a broken system, it is time to start over and the suggested system is a first good step but needs more global consideration to reflect the fact we are in a new century and that far removed from the start.

Anonymous Coward says:

While there’s been plenty of attention paid over the weekend to the fact that the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the conservative caucus of House Republicans, pulled its report on copyright reform…

Unfortunately the “plenty of attention” does not mean mainstream media (which attracts attention of people other than youth and geeks like me) has nothing. A google news search shows a total of 8 news stories and the most mainstream is CNET. Others include PetaPixel, GeekOSystem, etc.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately the “plenty of attention” does not mean mainstream media…

Well of course not. Take a look at who owns the majority of mainstream media. They are basically the same people who pressured to RSC to retract the report.

But, I’m not convinced it matters. The SOPA/PIPA protests where virtually ignored by the MSM right up until the very end and even then they spun it as “those pesky internet kids who want free stuff are up in arms!”.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

It doesn’t distract me at all, and I will likely never forget it. It was completely and utterly surprising, stunning, and astonishing. Are we sure that the people who wrote it weren’t part of some sort of clandestine third party? New Republican fifth-columnists? Some sort of Asimovian Foundation people of the truth-over-manipulation sort? An infinite number of monkeys with keyboards?

It was so weirdly good.

TroutFishingUSA says:

Some Problems with the Whole DJ Section

The section on DJ/remix culture needs to be heavily edited or removed altogether. Whoever wrote this, to put it politely, has no idea what they’re talking about.

First of all, “DJ’s” is a possessive noun, in as far as “DJ” can be considered proper usage. At the least, it should be written “DJs” or more correctly as “disc jockeys.” If they want to use it as a verb, it is “deejay” or “deejaying.”

Just saying, if you’re going to present this kind of stuff in the capital of the country, get the details right.

Second, deeming the US DJ market as “retarded” is, well, retarded. The main reason remix/sample culture may seem more stagnant in the US (and I see little proof that this is in fact the case) is because this sort of stuff has been mainstream here for almost forty years. Kids in the Bronx were tearing apart the foundations of American music back in the late ’70s; that method of music creation simply doesn’t have the same impact it once did.

Kids on the internet, who are a little more sheltered from their own culture, may think “mash-ups” are new art, but they betray their own lack of engagement with that outlook. “Blending” records dates back at least to the ’60s with people like John Oswald.

But seriously, comparing our scene with Turkey?! I know Turkish DJs who would knee-walk across glass to get a shot at the US market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh, I get it, now. You’re really with the RSC, aren’t you? Only mindless zealots truly see everyone else as mindless zealots. Unfortunately, the majority of the population are moderate middles on pretty much everything. Guess what? I’m in that Moderate Middle! Seeing /anyone/ spout off with such vehemence makes me contemplate the state of their mental well-being. Now be a good boy, wipe off your monitor, and take your trazidone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Ah, yes, here comes the part where you saps whine about how SOPA was needed for online freedoms and would have allowed greater ability to challenge takedowns, or something like that…

Rightsholders have proven themselves to be unworthy of the power that laws hand them. If the claim is that pirates are whiners who have their binky taken away (whatever the hell that means) the same is applicable to rightsholders.

SleepyJohn (profile) says:

I suspect this is a 'stalking horse'

I do not believe anyone could be so naive as to not foresee the reaction of the MAFIAA and its pals to this. Neither do I believe that such an incendiary report could possibly have ‘slipped out without proper inspection’. As someone suggested elsewhere (cannot remember where), I suspect this is a simple ‘stalking horse’ – throw out a radical idea that you think might get you lots of votes in the future, then cynically blame it on some upstart junior lackey so that you are not crucified if it flops; ensuring that said lackey is young, forward-looking, intelligent and well-educated, so that his well-reasoned opinions will carry weight with the voters. Then sit back and gauge the reaction – not from Big Media, but from the voters.

If the voters go for it then claim it was your idea all along and proceed to implement it. As many have said, people who vote have far more power ultimately than those who bribe; if you don’t get the votes you won’t get the bribes anyway. If enough voters clamour for this it could be the start of something enormously beneficial to the whole of mankind. This really could be big. All you American voters should shout very loudly and continuously in favour of this, as I am quite certain receptive ears will be listening in high places. If these politicians get enough votes they will not need bribes.

Ben S (profile) says:

Some Problems with the Whole DJ Section

Actually, a fact of english. When you pluralize something that isn’t a word, the only time you don’t use the apostrophe is when there’s no letters. 7s, 9s, 28s, etc. When letters are involved, you use apostrophes. A5’s, DJ’s, etc. This is done intentionally, so that you don’t mistake the ‘s’ as being part of the collection of letters/numbers, a part of the abbreviation or initialization.

Anonymous Coward says:

While I agree with the main points, I was underwhelmed by the scholarship. Basically, it’s a college report based on a few anecdotes and a sampling of various opinion websites such as this. I mean really, attacking copyright on the basis that a journalist could be sued for releasing memos endorsing Hitler? Isn’t that an oblique example of Godwin’s Law?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

except, the fact is VOTERS COST MONEY, voters win every time, but without the money you have no voters.

you will get zero votes if you have zero money, (your mom might vote for you)..

policy and integrity wins votes, but to get ANY votes at all (to run) you need MONEY..

if you cannot understand that voting IS ALL ABOUT MONEY, then you really have not been paying attention Mr Masnick..

or you prefer to distort the truth, you know the FACTS to suit your own biases, again, no unexpected, it’s just what you do..

but if all you have is a hammer in your toolbox, after awile everything starts to look like a nail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

idiot,, he Was talking about the partition, to the discussion paper (NOT A FUCKING REPORT), a position paper, or a brief is not a report, and does not determine policy.

it’s information for the sake of information, it would probably have been used (or still could be) to develop counter arguments, or for alternatives suggestions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Really PublicKnowledge?

thats right, emails would be say 1% effect, a phone call about 3% effect, a written letter signed and posted about 5% effect.. (if your lucky)..

sorry probably gave way to much credit for emails or ‘internet’ partitions, it’s probably more like a 10% NEGATIVE effect..

so knock yourself out with that partition, go your hardest, i wish you all the luck you can get.. you REALLY need it..

and when you have a poorly worded petition, that people are not even happy to sign EVEN IF they agree with it, you have a MAJOR problem..

masnick, your trying to push a sloppy shit uphill with a pointy stick on a hot day, blindfolded..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

hahah, oh no it’s a big conspiracy !!!!! they are ALL IN ON IT,, biggest cover up in US history !!!!.. bigger than 9/11..

yea, all the big media companies all got together to ‘cover it up’ !!!!!!..

you need to go back to your uni-bomber style hut and have a bit of a rest..

do you honestly believe that anyone (except the pirates and mike, king pirate) gives a flying fuck about this issue, do you think anyone cares ?? (except those who want the big media companies to make good things for them to steal)..

Geeezzz you would have thought if it was such an important issue that SOME PARTY would have mentioned it ONCE or twice during the recent election you had !!! did they..

did any party even mention copyright reform to try to get elected ??

no, and you dont have to be too bright to work out why !!!

but you obviously have to be somewhat brighter than Masnick and his ilk.

nut up says:

Re:

in a room that could not smell worse, wow, just wow.

Given you arrived with your diarrhoea postings flogging the same decaying topic no wonder there is a “wow, just wow” smell. Given this is an electronic medium – any smell you are going on about is from yourself.

Nut up, put on your big boy pants, and either provide actual substantive responses (instead of repeating the same insults topic after topic) or just go away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

dont kill the hopes and dreams of Masnick and all his followers (all 6 of them), they have to have something to cling too

you just wait, one day masnick will get a run on the board, then you’ll see that all these years and years and years and years of ‘hard’ ‘work’ will have all been worth it..

wont that be a glorious day indeed, it will be a complete vindication of Masnicks life and career to date !!!! crowning glory, allah ackbar.. !!!

I mean all the masnick watchers have seen the huge effects and massive benifits his work has done to change the face of copyright… oh wait..

perhaps “the man” masnick himself would like to detail the huge impacts his years of effort has had on the industry.. sweeping reforms, laws changed, peoples attitudes altered !!! (all 6 of em)..

(if you do something for years and years and years, and it’s not working, do you keep doing it??? or try something elese ?? )

I guess in masnicks case, as long as Google keep slinging him some ‘cash for comment’ the rest is not important, it cant be, because if it was, he would have actually made a different.

click bait are not facts…

why dont you tell us what your achieved masnick,, im sure it wont take more than a few seconds.. probably NO time at all !!!!!!

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re:

Simple… he gets paid per rant.

When the trolls come out on this level of offensive you know you’ve struck a nerve. This report could be at best a game changer, and at the very least a springboard to start an open conversation about a subject that sorely needs it. This conversation scares the living shit out of the content industry. When you consider the amount of time and money they’ve poured into purchasing prior legislation and trade agreements, nothing could be a worse return on their investment than an open debate. IP law is so ridiculously one-sided that any level of real debate could only result in reducing the current terms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

wow got me there,

I did not realize that in your head posting facts is “getting someone”.

killer blow !!!

Any ‘killer blow’ here is a mirror into your own headspace because all I did was post a fact. Rather sad that you see a ‘fact’ as a ‘killer blow’ to your worldview.

In the interest of facts – a URL to a press release. http://pirate-party.us/news/article/uspp-condemns-retraction-gop-report

Ophelia Millais says:

Some Problems with the Whole DJ Section

Well, that’s not what my English grammar textbooks said a certain number of years ago. It’s also not what current style guides say. See http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/faqs-on-style/

The only exception is when there are periods: M.D. gets the apostrophe, DJ and TV do not.

Anyway, I do agree that the “DJ industry” section was weakly argued and given way too much space. The technical illegality of most DJ mixes is just one of many ways in which copyright acts in opposition to culture; it would be better to just talk about that subject and use DJing, remixing, re-editing, and sampling as examples.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re:

Must you always frame your comments as a personal insult? Are your arguments so weak that they can’t stand on their own merits without you spewing vitriol at people? Seriously, harboring this much animosity towards people on a regular basis is very bad for your health; it’s downright toxic. Go out and take some time for yourself. Find some peace before you find your toxic behavior has you meeting your final peace.

The Real Michael says:

One thing that I would change

In the Policy Brief, for an elective 12-year renewal, it proposes a tax of “1% of all United States revenue from first 12 years — which equals all sales,” then 3% of revenue from the previous 12 years for another 6-year extension, and so on. I propose that it begin at 10% (of all revenue), then 20%, then 30% and on up. This would not only discincentivize renewal but would also help pay into the system, because otherwise the government is protecting their copyrights on the taxpayers’ dime, burdening the system. The government could then reallocate some of that tax revenue towards helping balance our budget.

That sounds fair to me. What do you think?

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